Pediatric Puffy Eye and Congestion

Colds and allergies can cause congestion in your child, resulting in coughing, wheezing and a stuffy nose. These conditions also can affect the eyes, and your child may have swelling or puffiness in her eyelids. Additional eye symptoms can include redness, itching and excessive tearing. Knowing possible causes will help as you talk to your child’s pediatrician about the ways you can relieve symptoms.

Eyelid Treatment

Treatment for a puffy eye depends on the cause for the swelling. If allergies are the culprit, your child’s pediatrician may recommend an allergy medication such as a pill or eyedrop to relieve the inflammation. If a bacterial infection led to these symptoms, your child may need an antibiotic eyedrop. In the case of a viral infection, such as the common cold, medications typically will not resolve the condition, and the doctor may simply recommend allowing the virus to run its course.

Swollen eyelids often feel painful. To ease discomfort, dampen a washcloth or hand towel with cool water, wring out the excess and place it on your child’s closed eyelids. This can offer some relief and help reduce the swelling.


The treatment for congestion also varies depending on the cause. If a virus such as a cold causes a stuffy nose and other symptoms, the virus needs to run its course, and medication will not help. If an allergy cause congestion, an allergy medication such as an antihistamine often offers relief. A bacterial infection requires oral antibiotics to treat the source of the infection.

Pinkeye Prevention

A common cold virus accompanied by eye redness and itching often is a condition known as pinkeye or conjunctivitis. This condition spreads easily, particularly among children since infected children rub their eyes and then touch a surface that other children touch.

Teach your child good hand-washing techniques and instruct him to avoid rubbing his eyes or face. If a family member has a cold and eye symptoms, do not allow anyone to share towels. This does not guarantee that your child will not have the condition but may help in prevention.


Contact your child’s doctor if you notice eyelid swelling or other eye-related symptoms. If your child has congestion, monitor the color of her nasal discharge. Yellow or green discharge that accompanies a fever or sinus pain can indicate an infection. A high fever, lethargy or other unusual symptoms require prompt evaluation from a doctor or emergency care clinic. If you do not know if you should take your child to the doctor, call the office to discuss symptoms, and the doctor or staff nurse can help you determine the next step.